In a study in Sweden of 160 consultations, general practitioners and patients separately assessed their satisfaction with the consultation length and the ability of the patient to explain the problem. These assessments were compared with each other and were correlated with the actual length of the consultation. The mean length of the consultations was 21 minutes with a great variation between different doctors. Consultations with psychological problems were longer than those with a physical character (mean of 28 versus 14 minutes). Elderly patients had longer consultations. The patients were on the whole more satisfied than the doctors. There was no evidence that longer consultations gave more satisfaction for either doctors or patients. The doctors not only registered more psychological problems than the patients but they were more likely to register insufficient time for discussing psychological problems.